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Rare high risk of extreme rainfall to trigger ‘life-threatening’ flooding in Texas and Louisiana | CNN

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Rare high risk of extreme rainfall to trigger ‘life-threatening’ flooding in Texas and Louisiana | CNN




CNN
 — 

A dangerous, life threatening flash flooding event is likely Thursday as torrential storms pound the already-soaked South.

A rare Level 4 of 4 high risk of excessive rainfall was issued for parts of eastern Texas and western Louisiana by the Weather Prediction Center Thursday. More than 500,000 people live in the high-risk zone.

High risk days only happen on 4% of days each year, but account for more than 80% of all flood damage and more than a third of all flood deaths in the US, according to the WPC. Just three other days have reached this concerning mark this year, including the most recent one nearly three weeks ago.

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It’s a sign the atmosphere is primed to unload extreme amounts of rain, a phenomenon that is becoming more frequent in a warming world driven by human-caused climate change.

Widespread rainfall totals of 2 to 6 inches are expected from Texas to Georgia through Saturday morning. A few spots caught under multiple torrential storms may pick up 8 inches or more of rain. It’s not out of the question that one or two spots could record close to a foot of rain in about 48 hours.

Texas and Louisiana have been in the bull’s-eye of seemingly unrelenting rounds of torrential, flooding downpours since the start of April. Rainfall in the waterlogged area over the last two weeks is over 600% of what’s typical, according to the WPC.

Double-digit rainfall totals between 20 and 30 inches over the region in recent weeks have soaked the ground and left rivers swollen, priming the flood threat to extreme levels.

Drenched soils are not expected to soak up any of Thursday’s rainfall, the WPC warned Thursday morning. Widespread flash flooding could begin minutes after heavy rain starts to fall.

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Storms, some of which may become severe, are likely to rumble to life Thursday afternoon in parts of Texas and push south and east to reach Louisiana and Mississippi late in the day.

Rainfall rates up to 3 inches per hour are possible in the heaviest storms, which could lead to life-threatening flash flooding, according to the WPC. Damaging winds, hail and a couple of tornadoes are also possible.

The greatest flooding danger will come as storms train later Thursday. Training storms track through and deluge the same areas over and over, like a train pulling its cars over the same stretch of track.

Serious flash flooding is likely in any areas caught under multiple storms unloading 2 to 3 inches of rain per hour. Roadways may quickly become rivers and small streams could easily overflow their banks.

More than 35 million people in the South are under a Level 2 of 4 or Level 3 of 4 risk of excessive rainfall Thursday. Many areas may only endure one torrential storm, but even brief downpours will be enough to cause flooding problems given how wet the South has been recently.

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Soaking storms will shift east on Friday and target more of the Gulf Coast.

Significant portions of Mississippi and Alabama are under a Level 3 of 4 risk of excessive rainfall on Friday. A larger area from the Texas/Louisiana border to Georgia and the Florida Panhandle is under a Level 2 of 4 risk.

Drenching storms from Thursday night will likely last into Friday morning for parts of the Gulf Coast. An initial round of flash flooding is likely in the first half of Friday before rain starts to taper off in the afternoon.

Another bout of heavy rain will develop Friday night and continue into the earliest hours of Saturday morning, working over the same areas hit earlier in the day. These storms could produce rainfall rates of 2 to 3 inches per hour, and quickly restart or worsen any ongoing flooding.

The upcoming rain will only add to already extreme rainfall totals in what’s been one of the wettest years to date on record across the Gulf Coast.

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Some Southeast cities have recorded more than half a foot of rain above what’s typical for the first several months of the year.

Several dozen cities from Texas to western Georgia are pacing at a top 5 wettest year to date and at least two cities in eastern Texas are experiencing their wettest year, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center. Dallas is experiencing its third-wettest year to date while Shreveport, Louisiana, is amid its second wettest.

Many cities in the Southeast have recorded well above average rainfall amounts so far this year. Data valid as of May 16.

Excessive rainfall has largely eliminated dryness and drought conditions along the Gulf Coast, but is hasn’t come without a cost.

Earlier this month, nearly 2 feet of rain fell in just five days and sent parts of eastern Texas underwater. Hundreds of people and animals were rescued from flooding as some area rivers rose to levels not reached since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.



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Louisiana

Louisiana legislature approves bill that would punish the possession of abortion pills without a prescription with hefty fines and jail time

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Louisiana legislature approves bill that would punish the possession of abortion pills without a prescription with hefty fines and jail time


Two abortion-inducing drugs could soon be reclassified as controlled and dangerous substances in Louisiana under a first-of-its-kind bill that received final legislative passage Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by the governor.

Supporters of the reclassification of mifepristone and misoprostol, commonly known as “abortion pills,” say it would protect expectant mothers from coerced abortions, though they cited only one example of that happening, in the state of Texas. Numerous doctors, meanwhile, have said it will make it harder for them to prescribe the medicines, which they also use for other important reproductive health care needs.

Passage of the bill comes as both abortion rights advocates and abortion opponents await a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on an effort to restrict access to mifepristone. The justices did not appear ready to limit access to the drug on the day they heard arguments.

The GOP-dominated Legislature’s push to reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol could possibly open the door for other Republican states with abortion bans that are seeking tighter restrictions on the drugs. Louisiana currently has a near-total abortion ban in place, applying both to surgical and medical abortions.

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Current Louisiana law already requires a prescription for both drugs and makes it a crime to use them to induce an abortion, in most cases. The bill would make it harder to obtain the pills by placing them on the list of Schedule IV drugs under the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law.

The classification would require doctors to have a specific license to prescribe the drugs, and the drugs would have to be stored in certain facilities that in some cases could end up being located far from rural clinics. Knowingly possessing the drugs without a valid prescription would carry a punishment including hefty fines and jail time. Language in the bill appears to carve out protections for pregnant women who obtain the drug without a prescription for their own consumption.

More than 200 doctors in the state signed a letter to lawmakers warning that the measure could produce a “barrier to physicians’ ease of prescribing appropriate treatment” and cause unnecessary fear and confusion among both patients and doctors. The physicians warn that any delay to obtaining the drugs could lead to worsening outcomes in a state that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

“This goes too far. We have not properly vetted this with the health care community and I believe it’s going to lead to further harm down the road,” said Democratic Sen. Royce Duplessis, who voted against the measure. “There’s a reason we rank at the bottom in terms of maternal health outcomes, and this is why.”

The reclassification of the two drugs is contained in an amendment to a bill originating in the Senate that would create the crime of “coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud.” Lawmakers in the Senate unanimously supported the original legislation a month ago. Later, bill sponsor Sen. Thomas Pressly pushed for the amendment to reclassify the drugs.

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Pressly said both the bill and the amendment were motivated by what happened to his sister Catherine Herring of Texas. In 2022, Herring’s husband slipped her seven misoprostol pills in an effort to induce an abortion without her knowledge or consent.

There have been several cases similar to Herring’s reported by news outlets over the past 15 years, though none of those cited were in Louisiana.

“The purpose of bringing this legislation is certainly not to prevent these drugs from being used for legitimate health care purposes,” Pressly said. “I am simply trying to put safeguards and guardrails in place to keep bad actors from getting these medications.”

The Senate voted 29-7, mainly along party lines, to pass the legislation. In the 39-person Senate there are only five women, all of whom voted in favor of the bill.

In addition to inducing abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol have other common uses, such as treating miscarriages, inducing labor and stopping hemorrhaging.

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Mifepristone was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 after federal regulators deemed it safe and effective for ending early pregnancies. It’s used in combination with misoprostol, which the FDA has separately approved to treat stomach ulcers.

The drugs are not classified as controlled substances by the federal government because regulators do not view them as carrying a significant risk of misuse. The federal Controlled Substances Act restricts the use and distribution of prescription medications such as opioids, amphetamines, sleeping aids and other drugs that carry the risk of addiction and overdose.

Abortion opponents and conservative Republicans both inside and outside the state have applauded the Louisiana bill. Conversely, the move has been strongly criticized by Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who in a social media post described it as “absolutely unconscionable.”

The Louisiana legislation now heads to the desk of conservative Republican Gov. Jeff Landry. The governor, who was backed by former President Donald Trump during last year’s gubernatorial election, has indicated his support for the measure, remarking in a recent post on X, “You know you’re doing something right when @KamalaHarris criticizes you.”

Landry’s office did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

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A recent survey found that thousands of women in states with abortion bans or restrictions are receiving abortion pills in the mail from states that have laws protecting prescribers. The survey did not specify how many of those cases were in Louisiana.

Louisiana has a near-total abortion ban in place, which applies both to medical and surgical abortions. The only exceptions to the ban are if there is substantial risk of death or impairment to the mother if she continues the pregnancy or in the case of “medically futile” pregnancies, when the fetus has a fatal abnormality.

Currently, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions.

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Why was Southwest Louisiana not included in State of Emergency following severe storms?

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Why was Southwest Louisiana not included in State of Emergency following severe storms?


LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) – A state of emergency was issued earlier this week for several parishes across the state.

The emergency declaration covers the period of May 14-17 and allows the state to assist parishes with damage.

The parishes included are St. Martin, Iberville, West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee, and St. James parishes, but no Southwest Louisiana parishes.

A week ago, an EF-2 tornado traveled through Sulphur while an EF-1 struck Westlake then moved into Lake Charles – leaving a clear path of destruction behind.

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One Sulphur resident who had a tree fall on her trailer says she is frustrated but not surprised that Calcasieu Parish was not part of the declaration. She feels Southwest Louisiana is often left behind – and this time around is no exception.

The mayors of Lake Charles, Sulphur and Westlake each expressed state or federal help would be welcomed for repairs and debris cleanup.

Westlake Mayor Hal McMillin told us he is grateful no one in our area was hurt during the storms – but still emphasizes the damage that occurred was not minor.

“There were a number of trees, houses, our church. They all took damage. It was a big event for Westlake,” said McMillin.

McMillin says he even reached out to state representatives hoping to get answers.

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“Anytime you have a tornado like that that hits, you look for the state and federal people to come to your aid, and we’re hoping that we can get this declared as some type of disaster so we can have some relief. And the state and federal folks could come in and help the people that had damage as well as help the city be reimbursed for the things we did,” McMillin said.

So what goes into the decision to declare a state of emergency?

Emergency Preparedness Director Jared Maze says there is a monetary threshold a parish must meet to be included.

“We sent out this flyer so that people can actually assess their own damage to their house, which is disaster.la.gov, and they can send in pictures and then experts will be able to review those and determine if it meets a certain dollar factor for public assistance which is typically around a million dollars,” Maze said.

Maze explains that technically the decision to proceed with the declaration is still under review as only 15 people in our area submitted reports of their damage.

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Maze said he hopes that by spreading the word about the website – more people will report their damage – moving our parishes closer to the state of emergency declaration – especially ahead of hurricane season.

You can visit the website by clicking here or by scanning the QR code below.

Why was Southwest Louisiana not included in State of Emergency following severe storms?(GOHSEP)



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Louisiana Legislature approves bill classifying abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances

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Louisiana Legislature approves bill classifying abortion pills as controlled dangerous substances


BATON ROUGE, La. — Two abortion-inducing drugs could soon be reclassified as controlled and dangerous substances in Louisiana under a first-of-its-kind bill that received final legislative passage Thursday and is expected to be signed into law by the governor.

Supporters of the reclassification of mifepristone and misoprostol, commonly known as “abortion pills,” say it would protect expectant mothers from coerced abortions. Numerous doctors, meanwhile, have said it will make it harder for them to prescribe the medicines that they use for other important reproductive health care needs, and could delay treatment.

Passage of the bill comes as both abortion rights advocates and abortion opponents await a final decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on an effort to restrict access to mifepristone. The justices did not appear ready to limit access to the drug on the day they heard arguments.

The GOP-dominated Legislature’s push to reclassify mifepristone and misoprostol could possibly open the door for other Republican states with abortion bans that are seeking tighter restrictions on the drugs. Louisiana currently has a near-total abortion ban in place, applying both to surgical and medical abortions.

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Current Louisiana law already requires a prescription for both drugs and makes it a crime to use them to induce an abortion in most cases. The bill would make it harder to obtain the pills by placing it on the list of Schedule IV drugs under the state’s Uniform Controlled Dangerous Substances Law.

The classification would require doctors to have a specific license to prescribe the drugs, which would be stored in certain facilities that in some cases could end up being located far from rural clinics. Knowingly possessing the drugs without a valid prescription would carry a punishment including hefty fines and jail time.

More than 200 doctors in the state signed a letter to lawmakers warning that it could produce a “barrier to physicians’ ease of prescribing appropriate treatment” and cause unnecessary fear and confusion among both patients and doctors. The physicians warn that any delay to obtaining the drugs could lead to worsening outcomes in a state that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country.

“This goes too far. We have not properly vetted this with the health care community and I believe it’s going to lead to further harm down the road,” said state Sen. Royce Duplessis, a Democrat who opposes the measure. “There’s a reason we rank at the bottom in terms of maternal health outcomes, and this is why.”

Supporters say people would be prevented from unlawfully using the pills, though language in the bill appears to carve out protections for pregnant woman who obtain the drug without a prescription for their own consumption.

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The reclassification of the two drugs in Louisiana is an amendment to a bill originating in the Senate that would create the crime of “coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud.” The sister of Republican state Sen. Thomas Pressly, who authored the bill, has shared her own story, of her husband slipping her abortion-inducing drugs without her knowledge or consent.

“The purpose of bringing this legislation is certainly not to prevent these drugs from being used for legitimate health care purposes,” Senator Pressley said. “I am simply trying to put safeguards and guardrails in place to keep bad actors from getting these medications.”

The Senate voted 29-7, mainly along party lines, to pass the legislation. In the 39-person Senate there are only five women, all of whom voted in favor of the bill.

In addition to inducing abortions, mifepristone and misoprostol have other common uses, such as treating miscarriages, inducing labor and stopping hemorrhaging.

Mifepristone was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2000 after federal regulators deemed it safe and effective for ending early pregnancies. It’s used in combination with misoprostol, which the FDA has separately approved to treat stomach ulcers.

Advertisement

The drugs are not classified as controlled substances by the federal government because regulators do not view them as carrying a significant risk of misuse. The federal Controlled Substances Act restricts the use and distribution of prescription medications such as opioids, amphetamines, sleeping aids and other drugs that carry the risk of addiction and overdose.

Abortion opponents and conservative Republicans both inside and outside the state have applauded the Louisiana bill. Conversely, the move has been strongly criticized by Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, who in a social media post described it as “absolutely unconscionable.”

The Louisiana legislation now heads to the desk of conservative Republican Gov. Jeff Landry. The governor, who was backed by former President Donald Trump during last year’s gubernatorial election, has indicated his support for the measure, remarking in a recent post on X, “You know you’re doing something right when @KamalaHarris criticizes you.”

Landry’s office did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

A recent survey found that thousands of women in states with abortion bans or restrictions are receiving abortion pills in the mail from states that have laws protecting prescribers. The survey did not specify how many of those cases were in Louisiana.

Advertisement

Louisiana has a near-total abortion ban in place, which applies both to medical and surgical abortions. The only exceptions to the ban are if there is substantial risk of death or impairment to the mother if she continues the pregnancy or in the case of “medically futile” pregnancies, when the fetus has a fatal abnormality.

Currently, 14 states are enforcing bans on abortion at all stages of pregnancy, with limited exceptions.

Copyright © 2024 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.



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